Archive - 2009
With less than an hour before the streets of my hometown erupt to the sound of fireworks, marking the end of 2009 and the start of 2010, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support for this year, and to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Thanks most of all to you, our loyal (and not so loyal) readers, for coming back time and time again, and for spreading the word on MotoMatters.com all this year. Your support and appreciation make all the hard work we put into this website worth it.
We wish everyone a happy, healthy and successful 2010, and we hope that every race of the 2010 season will be as thrilling as the Barcelona MotoGP race, or perhaps even the Sachsenring 2006 MotoGP race! May the riders walk away from every crash unscathed, and the team owners find willing and wealthy sponsors lining up to support them. Here's to a great year of racing.
Some of our loyal readers have written to us over the past few days to report a technical problem with the site. They have reported being unable to view the site, with connections timing out and the site not responding.
We are deeply grateful for the reports, and are working hard to resolve the problem. It is, however, not easy, as the problem seems to revolve around the length of time that some ISPs are taking to resolve the motomatters.com domain (in simple terms, your computer is asking your provider's server to locate the computer where the MotoMatters.com website is being hosted, and this process is taking too long). This is not a situation we have any direct control over or an easy fix for. We are currently investigating a number of solutions to the problem, including moving the site to a different hosting company nearer to the majority of our audience. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and fans, many of whom have offered advice and assistance. And if you have any advice to give, please either leave it in a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions. If you want to provide financial assistance to help us fix this, then we would be grateful for your donation, which you can leave on the donation page.
Another day, another set of beautiful photographs taken by MotoMatters.com snapper Scott Jones. That weekend saw the weather play a major role, with race day finally drying up and producing three great races, including a scintillating MotoGP contest. Relive it all again in glorious color:
On the third day of looking back at 2009, we return to the July 5th weekend, and the Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca. The light is always beautiful on the Monterey Peninsula, and Scott Jones knows how to get the best out of. Enjoy some of his highlights from a weekend of racing in California.
After yesterday's instalment of Scott Jones' fantastic images from Qatar, today we have more, from the heart of Utah's stunning landscapes. The World Superbike paddock went to Miller Motorsports Park, and Scott Jones captured it all on film. With such a breathtaking backdrop, Scott is at his best. Savor round 7 of the World Superbike series all over again, and remember that you can help out by supporting MotoMatters.com in 2010.
2009's Nearly Man: Nitro Nori, and Mr March in the MotoMatters.com 2010 Racing Calendar
The fate of John Hopkins continues to be clouded in mystery. A week ago, it looked like the former Suzuki and Kawasaki MotoGP rider was headed back to MotoGP, with various sources reporting that Hopper had signed to ride with the fledgling FB Corse MotoGP project.
Yesterday, though, Hopkins' manager told Roadracing World's David Swarts that the deal was far from done. According to the Roadracing World story, Bob Moore confirmed that Hopper was in talks with FB Corse about the Italian team's plans to enter a limited number of MotoGP races as a wildcard, but denied that any contracts had been signed. Hopkins is still considering his options, which include racing in the Superbike class in the AMA Pro series run by the DMG, according to Roadracing World.
It is a tradition to look back at the end of the year, and pick out the highlights of the season. Certainly for us at MotoMatters.com, the highlights have been Scott Jones' beautiful photos. Having paddock access for the first time meant that Scott could attend more races and take better photos. Over the next few days, we'll be going back and selecting a few of our favorites from among the very many beautiful shots Scott took for us. If you see any photos you'd like to have on your wall, then drop Scott an email to ask about pricing. And if you want to help us do it all over again in 2010, then head over to the donate page and send us a contribution. Here are some of Scott Jones' photos from Qatar to help persuade you of the wisdom of that decision.
News travels fast in the age of electronic media, sometimes so fast that it's ahead of the facts. After the Motorcycle News reported that Yamaha's World Supersport boss Wilco Zeelenberg was to become Jorge Lorenzo's new team manager, Zeelenberg himself has denied that any such decision has been taken. "I can't deny that Yamaha have spoken to me about this new position, but I'm definitely not the only candidate and a final decision is yet to be made," Zeelenberg told the Dutch website Racesport.nl.
Zeelenberg expressed his surprise at the rate at which the story had spread. "It's incredible how quickly the media publish these kinds of reports, and where they get them from, because it's a very long way from happening," the Dutchman told Racesport. What surprised him most was that nobody had checked with him, Zeelenberg said. "Up until this phone call [with Racesport.nl, Ed.] no journalists have called me to ask if the story is true or not. The story that I have already been given the job as Lorenzo's new team manager is completely wrong."
If you wanted a MotoMatters.com 2010 Motorcycle Racing Calendar for Christmas, you're too late, unless you can persuade Santa to take a detour via California or The Netherlands. But that doesn't mean you still can't get one. Though the calendars are selling fast, and the boxes are emptying rapidly, there's still time to get a racing calendar in time for January 1st, and maximize your enjoyment of Scott Jones' beautiful photos. Colin Edwards fans, in particular, should be quick, as January features a stunning shot of Edwards at the Sachsenring.
So just how do you fill those long drives to and from friends and family over the holiday period? My own personal preference is to listen to some of the excellent podcasts on motorcycle racing that are available on the internet. Especially in these dark times, when racing is still a long way away, listening to long and passionate discussions about racing on MotoGPOD, Rumblestrip Radio or Formula1Blog.com.
Sometimes, I get even luckier: I get to actually appear on a podcast, though the downside is that I get to listen to myself afterwards and hear all the mistakes I made. This December is no exception, Todd McCandless and Grace O'Neill of the excellent Formula1Blog.com website and podcast were kind enough to invite me onto the show to discuss the 2009 MotoGP season and hear my thoughts on the 2010 season. So, if you have a long drive ahead of you, and an hour and a half to fill with idle chatter about motorcycle racing, then head on over to Formula1blog.com and listen to the podcast on the website, or download the MP3 directly and load it onto your MP3 player. Happy listening, and happy holidays.
The dangers of modern technology are notorious, and easily overlooked. As any visitor who has done Ducati's excellent factory tour can affirm, the racing department, Ducati Corse, is closely guarded, with only a small glass window for the curious to peer through. All requests for entry are politely but firmly declined, for fear of anything leaking out before a formal announcement.
Of course, that does not stop news from getting out inadvertently. The Italian site GPOne.com had an interesting "scoop" today, displaying a "spy" photo of Ducati's brand new 2010 Desmosedici GP10 MotoGP bike. And who is to blame for this indiscretion? A sleeper planted by the covert industrial espionage unit of a rival factory? A cunning and resourceful Italian photo journalist talking his way in under false pretenses?
Hiroshi Aoyama and Marco Simoncelli finished the final day of testing at Sepang on Wednesday, bringing the cycle of extra MotoGP rookie tests to an end. Once again, it was Hiroshi Aoyama who was fastest of the rooking pairing, beating Marco Simonelli's time by a significant margin. Aoyama's fastest lap stopped the clocks at 2'02.3, just two tenths of a second off Casey Stoner's race lap record of 2'02.108 set in 2008, while Simoncelli set a fastest time of 2'03.2, according to Crash.net.
After the test, Aoyama expressed his satisfaction with the progress he had made. "I still have a lot to learn," GPOne.com reports Aoyama as saying, "because the MotoGP bike is so much different from the 125cc and 250cc machines. I have to get used to the traction control and to the fact that all works electronically, but I am satisfied with the work we have done over these days, even though I would like to do more."
At the last round of MotoGP at Valencia this year, Ducati announced a double-whammy of team manager losses: MotoGP team boss and sponsorship generator Livio Suppo announced he would be moving on to Honda for the 2010 season as their Racing Marketing Manager, while at the same time, WSBK boss Davide Tardozzi told the world that he would be leaving the World Superbike squad in search of a new challenge.
That challenge has been found in Germany, according to the leading Italian magazine Motosprint. Though the contracts still remain to be signed, Tardozzi is said to be joining BMW to manage their ambitious World Superbike project. The move will see Tardozzi reunited with two former pupils of his, the Italian having already has both Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus under his wing in previous years at Ducati. Tardozzi will not be the only reinforcement that BMW is bringing in from Ducati, though, as Michel Fabrizio's track engineer Max Bertolini will also be joining the Bavarian team. The loss of Bertolini will be a blow for for Xerox Ducati rider Michel Fabrizio, to whom Bertolini was much more than just an engineer.
The rain continues to dog the last of the rookie tests, another downpour at Sepang disrupting practice for Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama as they acclimatize to their Honda RC212Vs. Fortunately, the rain paid only a brief visit in the afternoon, allowing Simoncelli to rack up 44 laps and Aoyama to accumulate 43 laps of the Malaysian circuit.
Both men improved their times, but as yesterday, it was Hiroshi Aoyama who was the quickest of the pairing. Aoyama's 2'03.25 on the Interwetten Honda was nearly half a second better than Simoncelli's time of 2'03.70 aboard the factory-spec San Carlo Gresini Honda, but both men were still some way off both Casey Stoner's lap record of 2'02.108 and Valentino Rossi's pole record of 2'00.518.
Simoncelli continued to emphasize that times were not important. In the Gresini press release, he is quoted as saying "I must insist once again that this is not my objective at the moment. The most positive thing is that I have lapped at a consistently fast pace for all 56 laps and I started to enjoy it." His main focus was to adapt to the bike and continue to find the right set up.
Though the bumper crop of rookies due to enter MotoGP next season were given an extra session of testing, the last two to make use of that opportunity got off to a very damp start. Marco Simoncelli and reigning 250cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama arrived at Sepang to be greeted by a torrential downpour, delaying the start of the first day of testing until around noon local time.
Simoncelli, riding the two factory-spec RC212Vs used by Toni Elias for the Gresini Honda team, could only manage 44 laps of the Malaysian circuit, with a best time of 2'04.43, some 2 seconds off Casey Stoner's race lap record, and nearly 4 seconds slower than Valentino Rossi's 2009 qualifying record, set without the benefit of soft qualifying tires. Hiroshi Aoyama, in the familiar situation of having just one bike to ride, the former Team Scot Honda ridden by Gabor Talmacsi, was a few hundredths quicker than the man he took the 250cc title from, lapping Sepang with a best time of 2'04.38. Though well off lap record pace, both times are commendable under the circumstances. The track is still in poor shape from a series of car races, the tropical downpour serving only to worsen conditions. With just three bikes out on track - Aoyama, Simoncelli and a Honda test rider - little rubber was being laid down to give the track more grip.